Tzotzil of San Andres Larraínzar - Sociopolitical Organization

Most of the political system was created—or at least strongly influenced—by outside forces during the past 450 years. Today stratification is evident among the Andreseros: there are the landless, those with land for subsistence, cash-crop farmers, and others who no longer depend on their land. Aside from this, San Andres is clearly male dominated. Women usually do not own land, and political and religious offices are held exclusively by men. There are two political and administrative bodies in San Andres, the ayuntamiento constitucional and the ayuntamiento regional. The former consists of thirteen men who govern the municipio. These men, led by the presidente municipal , are elected for three years and receive a salary from the state government. Until the mid-1980s, it was necessary to be a member of the Institutional Revolutionary party to be elected president of a municipio anywhere in Chiapas. The ayuntamiento regional consists of twenty-nine men, and its main concern is with the ritual organization of the village. Men are appointed for one year for these offices and receive no salary. Crimes, misdeeds, land disputes, and the like were originally adjudicated by the local authorities, and some still are. Because of the distance to the nearest city, many cases are never filed. Among the Andreseros, local resolution of legal matters depends on consensus, reached between the authorities of the village and the parties involved. Consequently, power relations and authority have a great impact on these decisions. Nowadays the situation is much more complicated because younger men speak Spanish and, if they have enough money, have access to legal advice in the city.

It seems that when most of the Ladinos were chased out of the village (see "History and Cultural Relations"), the Indians lost their opposition group, against which a common identity was formed. After the liberation from most of the Ladinos, the Catholic part of the village tried unsuccessfully to chase out the Protestant Indians, too, as the Indians of other highland villages had done. Conflicts within the Indian community have been intensifying. Partly because of these conflicts, but also because of the steep expenses incurred by officeholders, many people refuse to fill religious offices, and an increasing number of Protestant churches are gaining supporters. Even among the supporters of the Catholic church, there are religious and political struggles.

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